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Negotiating with wedding vendors can be intimidating, but with the right approach and preparation, you can nail it. Start by researching the market and finding out the average cost of the services you want. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and help you determine a fair price.
Just be open-minded, flexible, and willing to compromise. With the right approach, you can get the services and prices you want, and have a stress-free wedding planning experience. Here are some negotiation tips for you:
Determine Your Priorities and Adjust Budget Accordingly
Before negotiating with wedding vendors, identify what is crucial for your wedding day. Have a clear understanding of what services you need and be willing to compromise on what is not essential. For example, if you are on a tight budget and want to splurge on your bridal gown and bridesmaid robes instead, consider opting for an off-season wedding or opting for a smaller wedding venue.
Be willing to allocate more budget towards your top priorities. Don't rely on vendors to lower their prices just because you don't want to expand your budget. Focus on allocating more to your top 3 priorities, instead of seeking discounts from all vendors.
It's important to approach negotiations with wedding vendors in a polite, professional, and respectful manner. Being rude or blunt will not only damage your relationship with the vendor, but it could also result in a less favorable outcome. You will want to maintain a good relationship with your vendor, even if the negotiation does not result in the outcome you wanted.
Be open and honest about your budget, and be willing to hear their perspective. They may have some suggestions that could help you achieve your goals, while still being within your budget. And instead of asking for a discount outright, try framing your request in a way that shows your appreciation for the vendor's work and services.
By being polite and respectful, you increase your chances of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement and ensure a positive experience for both parties. The key to successful negotiation is finding a solution that works for both parties.
Request a Detailed Invoice
Getting a detailed invoice is a smart way to get a clear understanding of everything that is included in your package. This will give you a comprehensive view of all the items, services, and extras you will be paying and what you may need to pay extra for. This way, you can identify the items and services you don't need and those you may have not known you needed, such as valet services, delivery fees, cleaning crew, or coat check staff.
Knowing the cost of extras in advance can help you avoid any surprises with hidden fees, like transportation charges from the rental company, additional electrical equipment for the band, or alterations of your wedding dress or satin robes.
Find a Middle Ground
It's perfectly fine to respectfully request a discount or additional services from vendors. For instance, you could ask if the car rental service offers complementary champagne for weddings. Vendors who are eager to work with you may be more open to finding creative solutions. The key is to find the balance between being assertive and being overly accommodating.
Don't be afraid to ask if there's room for negotiation or to speak up if something seems unjust, but avoid being unreasonable, obnoxious, or aggressive. Remember, you're not bargaining with a street vendor; you're communicating with a business owner about a significant event and a significant investment.
Avoid Double Discounts
If you have already received a discount due to a package deal or promotional offer, do not request additional discounts. Asking for further discounts on already discounted services can give the impression that you do not value the vendor's work and expertise. Treat vendors with respect as they rely on their business for their livelihood, not like outdated items on a clearance rack.
Guest Count is not Always a Factor in Workload
Just because your wedding is small and intimate does not automatically entitle you to discounts. This may be the case for items like a cake, where a smaller cake is needed for a smaller guest count. However, for services such as photography, the workload remains largely unchanged regardless of the number of guests. The hourly rate for photography does not vary based on the guest count, even if the photographer is on the job for 5, 8, or 10 hours.
Instead of demanding a lower rate just because you're having a smaller wedding, consider adjusting your schedule so that you only require 4 to 5 hours of photography coverage instead of 8. By being smart with your time, you can save money without having to ask for a discount.
Know the Days Reasonable for Negotiation
When negotiating with wedding vendors, understand that their demand for services on peak days (Fri-Sun) and popular seasons is high, so the chance of them negotiating is low. However, having a wedding on weekdays (Mon-Thurs) may increase the chance of finding a vendor open to reasonable negotiations.
Don’t Push Too Far in Negotiation
If a vendor offers a free item or a discount, accept it and don't ask for more. Vendors rarely lower their prices but may offer additional products or a small free item. Negotiating should benefit both parties, not just you getting your way.
A vendor's willingness to negotiate can depend on you making concessions. For example, a photographer might agree to extra shooting time if you let them take your engagement photos. Or that they do alterations for your bridal gown or satin robes for women at a lesser price but delayed time.
But keep in mind, if you ask for less, expect less in return. If the vendor is asking for more sacrifices than you are willing to make to get a better deal, it may be best to look for another option.
Understand It May Not Work the Way You Want
It's important to keep in mind that not all vendors are open to negotiating their prices. Some vendors have set prices that they believe reflect the value of their services and they may not be willing to change them. If you come across a vendor who is willing to negotiate, it's important to consider why they are willing to make a compromise. If it's because they are struggling to get business, it's important to weigh the risk of investing in them as a vendor for your wedding.
If a vendor is not willing to negotiate, it's important to respect their decision and move on to another vendor if their prices do not align with your budget. It's okay to have a budget for your wedding and it's also okay for vendors to stick to their prices. If you find yourself in a disagreement with a vendor over negotiations, it's best to avoid any unnecessary stress and find another vendor who better suits your needs and budget.
Sometimes it just doesn't work out, and that's okay. But if it does, it’s not just luck. The credit goes to how well-prepared you are and how professional you handled the situation.